Fraters Libertas was first launched as a web site in the spring of 2001 as a forum for two brothers to scribble for posterity. In March 2002, it was converted to a weblog and Saint Paul was brought on board. In the summer of 2003, the recipe for their four-fingered cocktail was perfected with a splash of Atomizer. Add ice, shake well, and serve chilled.
Currently all of them are living in Minnesota, with three in the Twin Cities and one in the southern portion of the state who tends to move around quite a bit as a result of a pending federal indictment.
It’s true that technically speaking, Fraters Libertas is not proper Latin. Please keep in mind that this is a web site, not a textbook. The name is what it is and they ain’t about to change it now because of a couple of pointy-headed linguistic geeks. Get over it Poindexter.
They are not professional pundits, loquacious lawyers, pontificating professors, or mavens of the media. They are long-time media consumers, cynics, and critics. They’re also passionate about politics, history, culture, and sport. They aim to provide an interesting and unusually humorous perspective on a wide variety of subjects. If you’re looking for lots of links and 24/7 news cycle blogging, this probably is not the place for you. But if you enjoy original writing with a healthy dose of wit, you’ll want to bookmark Fraters Libertas now and check back often.
By day, they’re mild-mannered managers, architects, and research analysts. By night, they’re loners writing withering social commentary in their underpants. They would prefer that those worlds did not collide.
Simon Owens: I’ve noticed that this time around, the media is trying harder than ever to try and get Americans excited about the World Cup. Why do you think they’re doing this, when in the past Americans have shown so little interest?
Fraters Libertas: Many in the media believe that if the world (especially Europe) likes something, it must be good and that it’s simply the ignorance of the American people that prevent them from thinking the same way. If the average Joe Six Pack, so distracted by that silly NASCAR and violent “American football,” only knew how wonderful soccer was, he would embrace the sport the way the rest of the world has.
The problem is that Americans have had plenty of exposure to soccer and, with the exception of a few fringe elements, they have rejected it as fundamentally unwatchable. It’s a fine sport to play, but as a spectator sport it leaves a lot to be desired.
Simon Owens: Do you think they’ve been successful and that more Americans are watching the World Cup?
Fraters Libertas: It’s possible that the ratings may be higher than in 2002, but I don’t get the impression that most Americans have caught even a mild case of World Cup fever.
Simon Owens: In all my interviews, I’ve noticed an odd correlation between sports blogs and political blogs: They seem to get the same kind of controversial rise out of people, to the point where many bloggers focus their blogs on both sports and politics. Do you think that the two are somehow similar in nature?
Fraters Libertas: That’s an interesting observation. I guess the obvious similarities are competition and passion. You’ve got teams, rules of the game, scores, and, at the end of the day, winners and losers. And people become passionately involved in both fields. That probably explains the crossover.
It many instances, people who are passionate about one subject are passionate about many. They’re passionate about life in general and that passion extends to their interests whether it be politics, sports or, in a number of cases, both.
Plus the taunting. Don’t underestimate its appeal in the equation.
Simon Owens: Have you ever thought of splitting your blog into two separate blogs to tightly hone your political and sports niches? What are some of the advantages of having both lumped together under one blog?
Fraters Libertas: No. I believe that one of the reasons people enjoy our blog is the variety. To limit ourselves to one subject would take a lot of the fun out of writing and likely result in diminished quality overall.
Simon Owens: Has your blog evolved at all in any specific ways since you first started it? What are some of the link-baiting methods you used to attract new readers?
Fraters Libertas: Not really. The original idea was to write about whatever we wanted, when we wanted to. I think we still stick to that basic concept, although the dictates of time and other commitments tends to limit our abilities in that regard during certain stretches. We would hope that, like fine wine, our scribbling has gotten better with age, but we’ll leave that evaluation for the readers.
Frankly, we stopped trying to attract new readers some time ago. Not that we don’t want them mind you, it’s just that we got tired of trying to pimp posts and get links. Once we were able to establish something of a name for ourselves and built up a decent base of readers, we elected to just let the chips fall where they may. If people like what they read and want to link to us, that’s great. We’re just not going to actively seek it out.
If you spend any amount of time worrying about traffic, who’s linking to you, or your relative “rank” in the blogosphere, you’re going to end up trying too hard to tailor your writing to what you think people want to read. That’s a prescription for a poor blog. It’s a mistake that many new bloggers make and I think it’s a reason why so many fail. Write about what you want to write about, not what others are already covering. Having some knowledge about the subject, an unusual angle, and a touch of humor doesn’t hurt either. If 76,463 bloggers have already weighed in on the latest developments in North Korea, don’t be number 76,464.
Simon Owens: What are the five blogs you’d recommend to supplement the reading of your own?
Fraters Libertas: Nihilist in Golf Pants: A little too PC at times, but still one of the overall funnier blogs.
Yucky Salad With Bones: Like Erma Bombeck on Meth.
First Things: Restoring the Christian intellectual tradition one day at a time.
Vox Day: Whether you’re on the Left or the Right, Vox will drive you crazy on a regular basis. He’ll also make you think.
The Evangelical Outpost: An evangelical Marine who writes on some of the most intellectually taxing philosophical issues of the day with humor and humility? If Joe only drank, he would own the keys to the blogosphere kingdom. Or he might post one a month at Fraters.
Related posts: Interview with Norwegianity, The gay olympics